There are tons of grilled chicken salad recipes where chicken takes the stage as the main protein source. You can mix and match vegetables, fruits, nuts and dressings to go with the grilled chicken breast meat.
This Mediterranean chicken salad is healthy and inviting. Picture lots of olives, cheeses, vibrant vegetables and tart, citrusy vinaigrettes. Yum!
I like this recipe because it’s so easy to put together, with so many variations at your disposal. Say hello to your next appetizer!
Is This Recipe Really Healthy?
I believe in living a moderate lifestyle and eating balanced meals. I’m not super strict with myself when it comes to calories, and a healthy meal should be nourishing for you, depending on your diet.
As an appetizer, this dish is healthy because:
- It’s low in artificial flavors, processed food, and saturated fats. What you see is what you get, and all the flavors come from the ingredients in this recipe.
- It’s filled with vegetables, proteins, and healthy fats like avocados and olive oil.
- Chicken breast or boneless chicken thighs – Scientifically, chicken breast is leaner than chicken thighs (which are juicier and have slightly more fats), so take your pick.
- Romaine lettuce – Romaine lettuce leaves have a crunchy, firm texture. They’re perfect for salads like this.
- Mediterranean vegetables – Persian cucumbers, Roma tomatoes, red onion, Kalamata olives, and lemon are very commonly used in this cuisine thanks to their punchy natural flavors.
- Avocados – Not typically included in a Mediterranean diet, but it does introduce a healthy amount of good fats!
- Feta cheese – Feta cheese is soaked in brine, a salty solution. Crumble before sprinkling over the salad.
- The salad dressing and marinade – Olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, lemon zest, juice from the jar of Kalamata olives, water, red wine vinegar, garlic cloves, flat leaf Italian parsley and seasoning (basil, oregano, salt and pepper).
How to Make This Salad
Step One: Prepare the salad dressing . In a medium bowl, mix together the ingredients for the salad dressing. Divide the salad dressing into two parts. One half is to be used as a marinade for the chicken, and the other half (the salad dressing) should be refrigerated.
Step Two: Marinate the chicken. Pour out half of the salad dressing into a shallow bowl or freezer bag (so handy and doesn’t take up much space!). Marinate the chicken for a minimum of 30 minutes or overnight in the refrigerator.
- Pro Tip: Don’t skip the marinating time. Even if you just marinate the chicken for 15 minutes, it will really help to tenderize the chicken to become really juicy.
- Pro Tip: For the most flavorful chicken, marinate for at least 24 hours.
Step Three: While the chicken soaks in all the Mediterranean flavor of the dressing, prepare the salad ingredients. Dice the Persian cucumbers, Roma tomatoes and Kalamata olives. Slice the red onion and the avocado. In a large bowl, combine the ingredients (leave avocado and feta cheese out for now).
Step Four: Preheat a grill or grill pan and heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium to high heat. Remove chicken from the marinade, letting excess drip off. Grill chicken for 5 to 6 minutes per side until lightly charred. The thickest part of the breast meat should reach 165°F internal temperature (use a meat thermometer to check this).
Step Five: Remove the chicken from heat and let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing. This will allow the juices to redistribute so that when you slice it, it’s kept all its juices and doesn’t feel dry.
- Pro Tip: The chicken should be at room temperature when you add it to the grill pan. If you are only doing a short marinade (up to 1 hour) they can be left at room temperature. If you add cold chicken to a hot grill pan, it can result in a tough texture thanks to lengthened cooking time.
Step Six: Whisk the salad dressing once more. Drizzle some dressing all over the salad and toss gently to combine.
- Pro tip: Always remember the golden rule: You can always add more! Start with a little bit of dressing and then drizzle more if necessary.
Step Seven: Slice and arrange the chicken meat, avocado, and feta cheese over the salad. Serve with lemon wedges.
Pro tip: I’ve learned to always buy a block of feta cheese and crumble it myself. The flavor is undeniably better than buying feta that’s already been crumbled for you.
Other Healthy Mixins
Chicken salads, as we’ve established earlier, are super flexible when it comes to ingredients. Depending on what I feel like, I will modify this salad by playing around with the different food groups.
Vary your vegetables:
- If you can’t find Persian cucumber or Roma tomato, regular cucumbers and tomatoes will work perfectly fine.
- Chickpeas and lentils are also popular Mediterranean ingredients to use in salads.
- Chop up some bell peppers (red, green, and yellow), grate some carrots, and stir-fry some button mushrooms to load up on vegetables.
Try different sources of fats:
- Instead of feta cheese, use goat cheese which has a similar flavor profile.
- Not a fan of tangy vinaigrette? Try Greek tzatziki, a rich and creamy dressing made using Greek yogurt.
Introduce carbs into this salad to make it a main meal:
- Carbohydrates like cooked quinoa, couscous, and brown rice will surely fill you up!
- Sprinkle this salad with torn-up pita bread (a type of flatbread), or turn this salad into a burrito-like wrap.
Making this salad for another time? Excellent choice! This salad is meal-prep friendly and will taste amazing even after 2 days!
Once all the vegetables have been sliced and diced, toss them together, keeping them dry by patting dry with a paper towel. Keep the salad for no more than two days.
Store the dressing separately, either in a mason jar or a glass bottle. When ready to serve, drizzle over the salad.
Mediterranean Chicken Salad Recipe
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1½ lemons, juiced + zest from 1 of the lemons
- 2 tablespoons juice from the jar of kalamata olives
- 2 tablespoons water
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ cup fresh flat leaf italian parsley, finely chopped
- 4 teaspoons dried basil
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons each of salt + pepper
- 6 cups romaine lettuce leaves, washed and dried
- 4 Persian cucumber, diced
- 3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 cup pitted Kalamata olives, sliced
- 2 avocados, sliced
- ¾ cup feta cheese, crumbled
- lemon wedges, to serve
- Whisk together all of the marinade + dressing ingredients in a medium bowl.
- Pour out half of the marinade into a large, shallow dish, bowl or freezer bag. Refrigerate the remaining half to use over the salad; make sure it doesn’t touch the raw meat.
- Add the chicken to the marinade in the bowl; marinade chicken for a minimum 30 minutes or up to overnight in the refrigerator. Pro Tip: For most flavourful chicken, marinate for at least 24 hours.
- While waiting for the chicken, prepare all of the salad ingredients minus the avocado and feta. Mix in a large salad bowl.
- Preheat a grill or grill pan and heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium- high heat. Remove chicken from marinade, letting excess drip off. Cook chicken until lightly charred and the thickest part reaches 165°F internal temperature, 5-6 minutes per side. Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
- Remove dressing from the refrigerator and whisk again before adding to the salad.
- Drizzle salad with the remaining untouched dressing. Start by drizzling some dressing all over the salad and toss gently to combine. Always remember the golden rule: You can always add more! Start with a little bit of dressing/ vinaigrette and add more if necessary. You don't want a soggy salad!
- Slice and arrange chicken, avocado and feta cheese over salad. Serve with lemon wedges.